Wednesday , Feb , 01 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Top-ranked UConn holds off No. 9 Pitt

=== Top-ranked UConn holds off No. 9 Pitt ===

Storrs, CT (Sports Network) – Rudy Gay scored 22 points and had a key steal in
the game’s final minute to help preserve top-ranked Connecticut’s 80-76
victory over No. 9 Pittsburgh in a key Big East showdown at Gampel Pavilion.

Josh Boone netted 12 of his 16 points in the second half and Marcus Williams
amassed 11 points and 11 assists for the Huskies (19-1, 7-1 Big East), who
recorded their eighth straight win since their lone blemish of the season at
Marquette on January 3.

Aaron Gray compiled 23 points and 12 rebounds for the Panthers (17-2, 6-2),
who lost for the second time in four games following their 15-0 start. Carl
Krauser and Sam Young each chipped in 10 points in defeat.

Connecticut led most of the way but was never able to put away the Panthers
until the final stages of the game.

Pittsburgh pulled within 72-71 on Keith Benjamin’s short jumper with 1:45
remaining, then had a chance to move ahead after UConn’s Jeff Adrien turned
the ball over. However, Gay knocked the ball loose from Ronald Ramon and was
fouled after driving the floor and laying it in. He promptly swished home the
bonus attempt to put the Huskies up by four with 51.1 seconds left.

“Rudy Gay made some tough, tough plays,” said Huskies head coach Jim Calhoun.
“Hes going to need to do that down the stretch for us. And tonight he
certainly did.”

Levance Fields’ three-pointer with 19.2 seconds showing cut the Panthers’
deficit to 76-74, but Williams sunk four free throws down the stretch to seal
the win.

“Were very fortunate to win, but I do think we outplayed them,” said Calhoun.
(Pitt) could have won the game, no question. The game was in doubt, no
question. But I thought we did enough things to win the basketball game.”

Pittsburgh trailed by nine points at intermission, but used a 9-0 burst early
in the second half to tie the game at 45-45 following Ramon’s layup with
around 15 minutes left.

Gay quickly answered with a three-pointer and the Huskies never trailed
thereafter, although the Panthers hung close over the remainder of the game.

A Boone dunk and a Rashard Anderson three-pointer extended a one-point edge
into a 65-59 UConn lead with 5 1/2 minutes to go. However, Pittsburgh scored
six of the next eight points and closed the gap to 67-65 on a Krauser layup
with 4:14 left.

Pittsburgh grabbed an early 15-14 lead after Krauser capped a 9-0 run with a
three-point play, but the Huskies responded with a big spurt of their own to
move ahead.

Anderson had a layup and free throw on the other end to start a 9-2 surge,
which ended on Anderson’s jumper with just under 11 minutes remaining in the
first half that put UConn up 23-17.

The Huskies went into the break with a 43-34 advantage following two made free
throws by Denham Brown with three seconds on the clock. He was sent to the
line when Panthers head coach Jamie Dixon was assessed a technical for arguing
an out of bounds call.

UConn shot 50 percent over the first 20 minutes and were paced by Gay’s 14
points on 6-of-8 shooting.

Game Notes

Pittsburgh fell to 0-13 all-time when facing the nation’s No. 1
team…Connecticut’s last loss at Gampel Pavilion came to the Panthers last
season, a 76-66 setback on January 22, 2005. UConn has won seven straight in
Storrs since…Boone rejected Gray with around 11 minutes left for his 200th
career block…Pittsburgh finished 2-of-20 from three-point range while the
Huskies went 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.